Advertise Here

A Matter Of Opinion

Archive for September 2008

Afternoon Loose Thread

Be careful driving home, especially on Election Day.

New meaning to road rage.

Our View: Encourage the youth vote

Virginia has taken steps to make it more difficult for college students to vote. That’s wrong. Fortunately, students in the Inland Northwest don’t face those hurdles.

Loose lips

Joe Biden, D-Gaffe, has plenty of Democrats n-n-nervous about his propensity for wandering off message and saying some loopy things.

Here’s some examples:

My favorite:

“When the stock market crashed, Franklin D. Roosevelt got on the television and didn’t just talk about the, you know, the princes of greed. He said, ‘Look, here’s what happened.’”

Will Thursday night be a Gaffe-a-thon?

AP photo

Fact-checking Friday’s debate

Here you go. Both sides have their errant moments.

Advice for both candidates:

Obama, stop calling terrorists and other enemies “folks.”

McCain, would it kill you to say that your opponent is right? Just once?

Loose Thread Monday

We’re headed into election endorsement season full boat, full swing, full steam ahead. Block those metaphors! Anyway, blog lines are open this morning, and we are, too.

Maybe Obama should skip the debate

After all, McCain has already won.

They probably did that ad before McCain suspended the campaign to help hammer out an economic rescue deal, which hasn’t been done yet.

Thought he was going to stay put until that happened? You know, Country First. Now he’s resuming campaigning?

Help make sense of this for me, please. In the meantime, Slate is running a contest to guess McCain’s next stunt.

What’s your guess?

Drive at 5-something

Something to think about on the way home (besides the economic soap opera in Washington, D.C.)? Post your thoughts and give others a chance to respond.

Today’s homework

The Spokane School Board has identified six finalists for a board vacancy. This story lists them and includes the following passage:

The board has announced that it will go into executive session following Tuesday’s interviews, then will reconvene the public meeting to select a replacement for former board member Christie Querna.

Keep in mind the state open meetings law precludes their making a decision in the closed meeting. What would you care to bet the choice, once they emerge, will be unanimous?
Meanwhile, if you’re feeling prescient, post your prediction of who will get the job. Extra credit if you explain why.

Anyone else get this email on the bailout?


I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship with a
transfer of funds of great magnitude.
I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has had
crisis that has caused the need for large transfer of funds of 800 billion
dollars US. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most
profitable to you.
I am working with Mr. Phil Gram, lobbyist for UBS, who will be my
replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. As a Senator, you may
know him as the leader of the American banking deregulation movement in the
1990s. This transactin is 100% safe.
This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We need the funds
as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these funds in the names
of our close friends because we are constantly under surveillance. My family
lawyer advised me that I should look for a reliable and trustworthy person
who will act as a next of kin so the funds can be transferred.
Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund account
numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to so that we may transfer your commission for
this transaction. After I receive that information, I will respond with
detailed information about safeguards that will be used to protect the
Yours Faithfully Minister of Treasury Paulson

(via Angry Bear)

This freeway won’t be free

Incremental progress is being made on Spokane’s long-awaited north-south corridor — yet progress it is. Today’s editorial shares some thoughts on the matter.

Dead man walking (aka a pedestrian)

A story now posted on The Spokesman-review Web site reports that Spokane police issued 52 citations over a 1 1/2-hour period — more than a citation every two minutes — while conducting an emphasis patrol in the Gonzaga University neighborhood. Thirty-five of the tickets were for failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.
If you aren’t familiar with the term “emphasis patrol,” it’s police-speak for sting operation. A decoy acts like a pedestrian while other officers wait to nab drivers who whiz past.
Before I go further, a word of disclosure. I have been ticketed in such an operation. I also have been rear-ended big time when stopping to let a pedestrian cross Grand. And, last, I frequently walk through areas of downtown where drivers, including occasional police officers, routinely ignore pedestrians who are trying to exercise their right-of-way.
So here are my arguments against emphasis patrols:
1. They are conducted only on a spot basis. Violating the law will get you a ticket for an hour and a half, but the rest of the year you’re in the clear.
2. Why waste the time of a decoy, who isn’t there because he really wants to cross the street, when you could go to areas where the problem occurs regularly and cite real drivers who violated real pedestrians’ rights? Since Tuesday’s sting was prompted by complaints in the area, why not just go there and enforce the law? Or if that didn’t work, try the intersections around Second and Third and Madison and Jefferson in southwest downtown any morning between 7 and 8 or any evening between 5 and 6.
If the pedestrian right-of-way law were enforced consistently rather than just occasionally, I’ll bet motorists would get the idea — and without rear-end collisions.

Tired of campaign ads?

Then don’t watch this video by John Dickerson about historical presidential ads:

Election letters: Thumbs up or down?

We’ve had a moderate amount of feedback about our letters page of late, which features mostly election-related and mostly Obama and McCain-related material, because that’s what we have. A couple of readers have asked if we could please move on — but more than that have said they enjoy having a full page produced by local writers and balanced by opinion if not by topic.

What do you think? Are you sick of talking about the election with still more than a month to go? Are there more important things, such as the feds’ financial dealings, that must be discussed and resolved before then? Or is it more important than ever to hash out the potential presidents’ qualifications to deal with these huge decisions? (Other?)

Cinderella Complex: No More?

In my Sunday column, I traced how far women have come since 1980, in my opinion and experience.

As I was finishing the column Thursday, I recounted the history with Gonzaga University students who were born in 1987, 1988 and 1989. I asked if it sounded like ancient history. Yes, it did, some of them wrote. They wrote some really good responses. To see them, read the rest of the entry.

Meanwhile, here’s an excerpt:

In 1980, Lynn Caine spoke at Broward Community College in South Florida. Caine had written a best-selling book about suddenly becoming a widow. Left with two young children, she didn’t know how to do her family’s finances or how to fashion a social life in a culture built on couples.

I was a young reporter for the Fort Lauderdale News, and I covered Caine’s talk. Later that evening a group of us gathered with Caine at the home of a woman from the college. The woman’s neighbor told Caine about the husband who left her for another woman, left her broke with six kids.

A year or so later, Colette Dowling, author of “The Cinderella Complex,” spoke at the college. She said women had to take control of their personal happiness. They had to write their stories and not wait around for Prince Charming to pen the happily-ever-after endings.

By 1980, I had met only one woman doctor and just a handful of women lawyers. I’d never met a woman minister, judge or police officer. There were just two top-level women editors at the Fort Lauderdale News, and both were targets of disproportionate criticism by male and female staffers.

The struggles ahead for women seemed overwhelming. The Equal Rights Amendment was on its death watch. Equal pay for equal work sounded like a Utopian slogan.

Have we come a long way, baby? Blog lines are open.

Smart Bombs: Private lives. Public office

Are the family lives of politicians a factor for you as a voter? Do you respond positively when you see those smiling faces on TV, mailers and billboards? Should the media accept the family narrative put out by campaigns, or report things the candidates would rather you didn’t know about their personal lives?

That was the theme of Saturday’s Smart Bombs.

Character, we’re told, is revealed when nobody is looking. How voters can discern that without looking is a challenge all politicians face.

What do you think?

P.S. This is none of your business, but my son (11) graduated to black belt in karate on Friday night. So did the daughter of an occasional commenter on this site. But I’ll leave it to him to come forward as the proud father.

What a night!

Coming to a theater near you?

A documentary about Tim Eyman is being touted by Tim Eyman. But his battles are not about Tim Eyman, who is the star of the movie. No, it’s about you … filtered through the lens of Tim Eyman. That’s why you’re not in the title, which is “The Battles of Tim Eyman.”

Here’s a preview. It’s funny stuff. I rarely agree with the guy, but he does have a good sense of humor.

Loose Thread Friday: Indian Summer

Wanted to do a riff this morning on Indian summer, considering the forecast of highs in the 80s today and then, the temperatures decrease.

Google Indian Summer and find a harvest of good stuff, including the debate whether this kind of weather even qualifies. Does it have to be weather that follows the first frost? What is the connection with Indians, anyway?

And then I stumbled upon this clip of The Doors singing “Indian Summer.”

Enjoy and tell us what’s on your mind this fine Friday morn.

Keo Chronicles: Sept. 18, 1945

Emeline kept her appointment to see Dr. Hartlin about her eye. She was there in his office two hours or more. He examined it again, said there was some change. Seemed to be in another, smaller spot. He called in Dr. De Ruth and together they examined it closely. Then E. said they met in another room and had quite a consultation. Didn’t give her much satisfaction as to what they thought was the matter.

They didn’t seem to think there was anything thing she could do about it. Only wait and see what developed. Did mention X-ray treatment. Which is a disturbing thought for us.

*This is the first entry in Keo’s journal about her sister Emeline’s physical problems. It would turn out to be cancer and spread rather quickly. Emeline dies within the year. In this photo of Keo with her sisters, circa late 1930s, Emeline is at the far left. Keo is seated next to her.

*What are the Keo Chronicles? Read rest of entry.

The Power of Misinformation

This study calls into question the work of journalists.

It finds that when liberals and conservatives consume misinformation, it intensifies their feelings about an issue. Hardly earth-shaking.

But when people are presented with refutations of the misinformation they become more convinced than ever. That is, they’re more apt to really, really believe the misinformation, rather than change their minds.

Political scientists Brendan Nyhan and Jason Reifler provided two groups of volunteers with the Bush administration’s prewar claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. One group was given a refutation — the comprehensive 2004 Duelfer report that concluded that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction before the United States invaded in 2003. Thirty-four percent of conservatives told only about the Bush administration’s claims thought Iraq had hidden or destroyed its weapons before the U.S. invasion, but 64 percent of conservatives who heard both claim and refutation thought that Iraq really did have the weapons.

1. How do you explain this?

2. Why should journalists bother with the facts?

Loose Thread Thursday

Good morning!
Feeling discouraged about the future because of all the bad financial news?

Here’s a video that will cheer you up. The boy’s name is Dalton Sherman. He’s a Dallas fifth-grader who addressed a convention of teachers recently.

Be wowed. And thanks to Mary Ann Murphy of Partners With Families And Children: Spokane
to alerting me to the video.

Enjoy! And let us know what you think of Dalton’s speech or anything else on your mind this Thursday morning.

Keo Chronicles: Sept. 18, 1945

I was threatened with a cold and touch of a sore throat. Stayed inside all day and used lots of honey in my throat.

What strikes me about this entry is how everyone has personal cold remedies. Always did. Always will. What’s yours?

E-Litter Recycling

From today’s editorial:

In the hit TV show “Madmen” — which takes place in 1962 — the main character, Don Draper, and his family go on a picnic. As they finish, Don pitches his empty beer bottle into the distance while his wife shakes out paper waste onto the green grass.

The United States’ anti-littering campaigns had already begun by 1962, but many people still weren’t paying attention. How far we’ve come. Or have we? Building up along our roads, and hidden in our weekly garbage, is litter much worse for the environment than empty beer bottles and used napkins. There you can find the innards of old televisions, outdated laptops and obsolete computer monitors. They can contain toxic chemicals, such as mercury and flame retardants.

It hasn’t been easy or convenient to dispose of them, but that will change Jan. 1 when a Washington state law takes effect. Consumers can recycle computers, televisions, monitors and laptops at no charge. (Manufacturers of electronics are sharing the cost of the new program.) In the Spokane area, Goodwill Industries will be one of the major recyclers.

“If you can, hold onto your (electronic) stuff until Jan. 1. Then recycle it for free,” advises John Swiderski, owner of Deer Park Computer Sales and Service.

Do you remember litter bug campaigns from your 1960s-1970s youth?
What electronic litter gathers dust in your basement?

Drive at 5

Beautiful sunny day. Lots of people walking. Soaking up the last rays.

Enjoy your drive home. Of if you are among the lucky, walk or bike home or be home already.

More and more tomorrow.

Affordable Housing: How much is too much?

(Spokesman-Review file photo by Rajah Bose)

From our editorial today about the proposed “rescue” of the Martindale apartment building in Hillyard.

It is noteworthy, then, that a plan is in the works to reclaim the Martindale. Northeast Washington Housing Solutions – the Spokane County housing authority – spent $651,000 to acquire the aging, neglected structure and intends to start raising funds to restore the 50 units.

But at $11.8 million, the cost is a startling $236,000 per unit….

Still, $236,000 a unit? If the housing authority can raise $11.8 million for low-income housing, the agency needs to weigh its options and make sure it spends those funds as efficiently as possible.

How much is too much? Blog lines are open.

Loose Thread Tuesday: The Monkees

Our 10 a.m. editorial board meetings often begin with discussions of very weighty matters, such as memories of The Monkees, a singing/TV sensation from the mid-1960s.

We don’t often need to explain to Lynn, our youngest editorial page member, about these cultural allusions. She’s an old soul, plus a watcher of old sitcoms on occasion. But she hadn’t heard of The Monkees. So we had some fun.

Here’s something to refresh your memory.

So who was your favorite Monkee? Blog lines are open on that weighty issue or whatever is on your mind this morning.

Keo Chronicles: Sept. 14, 1945

(These Spokane Chronicle carriers were photographed in 1924, so obviously not the ones Keo was complaining about. S-R file photo.)

Even though this entry is from “yesterday” in the Keo Chronicles, I love it so because it shows how boys in gangs can always worry older people.

The gang of Chronicle carriers are worrying me so much. They are just taking over the place. Must I sit by and see them destroy my fence and lawn and litter the place every evening for someone to clean up.

This evening, I ordered them to take their papers and get out of my yard. They were insolent and jeering. I see this is not the way for me to handle the problem, but how?

*What are the Keo Chronicles? Read rest of entry.

CDA Education Corridor: Git ‘er Done

From our other Sunday edit:

Six years ago, the Board of Education surprised many in Coeur d’Alene by declining to endorse the corridor concept. Three months ago, the board deferred the lease question until September, mostly to get some questions answered. Now the board has canceled the September meeting.

The delays are in sharp contrast with Coeur d’Alene Mayor Sandi Bloem’s enthusiastic assessment that it’s “the chance of a lifetime.”

To relieve the uncertainty, the board needs to schedule a special meeting, give the proposed lease its full attention and do what it takes to move a worthy project toward the finish line.

Stupid Campaign Rumors: Check them out

From our Saturday edit:

You’ll find that Palin did not ban books, slash funding for special needs kids, join the Alaskan Independence Party, endorse Pat Buchanan and push for the teaching of creationism in public schools. Oh, and she really is the mother of her son, Trig.

You’ll find that Obama is not Muslim (radical or otherwise), did not help a corrupt developer get $14 million in taxpayer funds, was born in the United States, does not plan to raise taxes on the middle class and does not refuse to put his hand over his heart for the Pledge of Allegiance.

What campaign rumor did you initially believe? Here’s my confession: I thought the photo of Palin in a bikini holding the rifle was authentic. Why? The woman’s body superimposed onto her head was not perfect. It looked as if it could belong to a 40-something woman who stays in relatively good shape, as Palin obviously does. Your turn….

Our view: Beneath the garbage

The kerfuffle over alley garbage pickup on the North Side was quietly resolved when the city bought new trucks and resumed alley service. But what we see beneath the garbage are a few tips for municipal leaders on how to handle changes that will affect their constituents’ everyday lives. Excerpt:

Leaders and staffers need to be alert to signs a simple issue might turn complex and costly. Look for:

•Changes in municipal services that disrupt citizens’ daily or weekly habits.

Few people willingly embrace change in their routines. In a world increasingly chaotic, people cling to the security of routine at home, at school and in the workplace. Most residents don’t attend council or commission meetings. Their contact with local government is limited to services they count on each day or each week – especially water, sewage disposal and garbage pickup. …

Civic leaders and staffers should always give plenty of notice and allow plenty of time for public hearings on proposed service changes. And they should ask citizens how the particular public service works into their routines, how it affects them at a basic level. And then leaders, staffers and residents need to brainstorm how the routines will change and how much burden (or perceived burden) this will place on citizens.


Skip the ‘pit bull’ fluff

After a couple of weeks in the spotlight but still behind the campaign signs, it’s time to get to know Sarah Palin face to face. We hope that in Palin’s first nationally publicized interview, Charles Gibson will ask the substantive questions Americans really want the answers to, including:

•Vice President Dick Cheney has said that while conservation is an admirable personal trait, the government should not play a role in limiting energy demands. Agree or disagree? If you disagree, what steps do you support?

•Congress is debating a cap-and-trade system to curb greenhouse gases. Do you support that effort? Why is that better than a carbon tax or other solutions?

•The No Child Left Behind Act is up for reauthorization. What changes – if any – would you make to the law?

And let’s not forget her more seasoned opponent who still must answer the same questions.

Thanks to our readers who contributed their own questions here at AMOO.

Comparing the candidates, a Web site that collects and reports information about state governments, has published a matrix comparing the positions of Barack Obama and John McCain. You can find it here.

In bed with special interests

Sex. Oil. Videotape.

No energy shortage here.

(Did they really use “probe” in the headline?)

Letter: Beyond Fannie and Freddie

From Richard Brown’s letter today:

The Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac giant mortgage companies are now going to be “rescued” by the government. But not a word is said about preventing a recurrence of this miserable mess.

Two things need to be done right away: (1) make adjustable rate mortgages illegal and (2) guarantee the principal amounts of loans can be repaid at any time the borrower wants to do so. If one of the presidential candidates would adopt this goal, he’d have my vote! But neither of them seems to know what’s going on, and they both just endorse the action proposed by our present government.

Do you have any recommendations for the candidates on what they should do as president to prevent a recurrence of the mortgage maelstrom?

Palin letters: a pro-con exercise

Here are some excerpts from the letters we printed today about Sarah Palin:

The Speech

I am a former Republican (voted for Bush both times) and was disappointed with Palin’s speech. I saw it as a lesson in oversimplified political rhetoric. She had very little substance in her words as she threw cheap political zingers while she sidestepped every major issue concerning Americans today, such as the economy, energy, education (especially in science and math), immigration, housing and health care (especially concerning veterans), and Iraq (besides her view that we’re apparently winning).

I was sincerely impressed by Sarah Palin’s speech. She was humorous, well-spoken, passionate and sincere. Why does it bother everyone that she stands up for what she believes? Isn’t that what we want of our politicians – honesty and courage?

The Record

Palin inherited a town with zero debt and left it with an indebtedness of over $22 million, most of it for a sports complex, postponing a sewage treatment plant the city lacked.

We have known Sarah Palin and of Sarah Palin for more then 20 years. I worked for the borough mayor and she with (and was) the Wasilla mayor. Even longtime women in the political arena say it is sexist to refer to Sarah as a freshman anything (do any refer to Obama like that?). While I admit that I am biased, why not have some new blood in that “good ole boy” system that is our Washington of today?

Alaska is a state that cannot be run by someone with a weak backbone or vision.

(One more in extended entry)

It’s interesting how two (million) people can look at the same person and evaluate her so differently — a poem about blind men and an elephant comes to mind. Throw in a little more rancor among the blind men and you’ve got this election.

Every school left behind

Today’s editorial points out the ridiculousness of an educational measuring stick that labels vastly improving schools as failures. No Child Left Behind is driven by a good idea, school accountability, but all schools will inevitably fail as NCLB standards approach perfection.

What are your thoughts on NCLB and school accountability?

What would you ask Sarah Palin?

The new political star will finally be interviewed.

If you were Charlie Gibson, what would you ask?

Dumb Bomb

If you think Barack and Michelle Obama are elitists, there’s a lot of other adjectives you could use: patronizing, condescending, haughty, snobbish, supercilious. But uppity?

Reminds me of when then-Arizona Gov. Evan Mecham didn’t see anything wrong with the term “pickaninnies.” But that was more than 20 years ago.

No federal charges in RPS case

That’s what investigators told the media today.

What are your thoughts on this decision? This issue?

Lost Flights

Spokane has never been an easy place to fly into. Airlines have recently dropped some flights. It’s important that the community work together to fix this, in Our View.

Hypocrisy can be funny

As Jon Stewart shows here: (Warning: There is one naughty word). Teen pregnancy. Women candidates. Qualifications for office. It’s all covered.

Palin at the plate

The news of the day has to be Sarah Palin. Back, back, back, back, back … yep, it was a home run.

But did it win you over?

Home run call

So when did everyone turn into Mariner announcer Dave Niehaus? Palin’s selection was a home run. Her speech tonight will be a home run. My oh my, why is everyone using the same metaphor?

1. Baseball is patriotic?
2. Deference to her career as a sports anchor? (See video above).
3. Cliches rock!
4. Other

Obama: The early years

The Palin drone is irritating some of the customers here at MOO. What about Obama? Where’s the details on him?

Remember that whole flap over the New Yorker cover? The worst part is that it overshadowed the excellent in-depth article about how Chicago shaped Obama’s politics. Here it is.

Here’s a shorter article from the Wall Street Journal.

Here’s a look at his years as an instructor at the University of Chicago.


Wednesday’s Loose Thread

Can’t stop yawning this morning. Got plenty of sleep. Coffee at my side. Can’t quite put my finger on it.

Is Joe Lieberman speaking again?

Here’s your open thread for wide-awake commentary.

Parenting and Palin

Here’s a good New York Times article on the reaction of mothers to Sarah Palin. At the end, it mentions Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who has a child with Down syndrome.

This blog is mentioned in the article. Mothers in Portland weigh in, and when the NYT article appears, people from all add their comments.

This is also being discussed at S-R’s Parents Council blog. You can chime in there or here.

(S-R Photo of McMorris Rodgers and son, Cole, in May 2007)

Proceed with highway work

The long debate has secured improvements to the plan, and a federal appeals court has speedily rejected further protests. It’s time for Idaho to proceed with the Sandpoint bypass on U.S. Highway 95. So says Tuesday’s editorial.

Calling all followers

Back when the field of 2008 presidential candidates seemingly numbered in the dozens, I found myself hoping for an Obama-McCain final. There were two people who had shown enough independence to deal with ideological conflict as honest, respectable differences of opinion. Both had shown an ability to see merit in the opposition’s case and to join forces across party lines in the interest of a solemnly held value.
With candidates like that on the ballot, maybe we could have an enlightened, constructive and informative campaign.
So far, I think the candidates have done a pretty good job of voicing their cases without some of the mean-spirited pettiness that has become common in years past. It’s all relative, of course.
Still, as some of the evolving threads on this and other blogs show, the leaders may be trying to show the way, but the followers have gone off along tired old paths of negativism.
In my opinion, it’s a sad reflection on the candidates if the most their backers can do is trash the opposition.
If that’s the what the campaign promises, we’ll have missed a rare opportunity.

Get blog updates by email

About this blog

A Matter of Opinion is really a matter of many opinions — those held by the people responsible for the opinion pages of The Spokesman-Review ... and yours. Check in regularly to follow the discussion and help keep it lively.

Joust offline!

We welcome letters to the editor (all are subject to editing). Letters can be sent to:

Search this blog
Subscribe to this blog
Advertise Here